Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

March 29, 1999

Spring has finally arrived

Canada geese are back and flying in big numbers, ducks can be seen on small potholes, the days are getting longer, most of the snow is gone, and Angus, my young lab, has already dug his first hole of the season in my yard.

All are signs of spring and I think we can finally say spring has officially arrived.

In most years, I don't like to make an official announcement on the arrival of spring until our area lakes have opened up and are free of ice.

However, this year just seems a bit different. The ice on our area lakes hasn't left yet, but the weather has been so nice and spring like for so long that I just can't put spring off anymore.

I love watching the waterfowl and the other birds return, and I'm more than ready to try a little open water fishing.

Like most, I've been eagerly waiting for spring to arrive and there's no way I'll go back to anything like winter until at least late November.

Regarding the ice on our area lakes, it is quickly turning into a soft, gray slush and, with a little wind, should be gone very soon.

Lakes, like Winsted, that are being aerated are opening up very fast and may be ice-free by the end of the week.

Other lakes, like Howard, were still carrying ice anglers late last week and are just starting to open up along the shorelines.

On another note of spring, as the lakes open up, look hard for bald eagles. They tend to follow the ice-out line on their way to nesting grounds farther north.

When the ice melts, dead fish float to the top and end up on the shorelines, creating an easy meal for the traveling eagles.

Now through the next few weeks will be prime time for eagle sighting and watching in our area.

Also, and probably the most amazing part of the new season, has been the large number of Canada geese that are in the area. The population of Canada geese (honkers) has grown considerably in our area and across the midwest the past five or six years and seeing big flocks of them has become almost the norm.

But this spring, they have seemed to arrive in very, very large numbers. Actually, they're everywhere.

Take a drive in the evening, just before sunset, and you will see geese in the air in every direction.

On a final note, high school baseball teams will be playing their first games of the season this week and I've already seen a guy mowing his lawn.

Spring has finally arrived.

Outdoor notes

  • Pay special attention to the ice at this time of year. Although a few anglers are still heading out to nab a few late ice panfish, the lakes are no longer safe for any type of travel. If you do head out, be careful, wear a life jacket, and always go with a partner.
  • The 1999 fishing opener is set for Saturday, May 15.
  • Take some time to read the 1999 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Handbook. Note page 5, which lists new and special regulations for the 1999 season.
  • Attend your favorite conservation organization's fundraising banquet this spring.
  • The Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club will meet Monday, April 5 at 7 p.m. at the clubhouse.
  • Very soon, it will be time to get the fishing gear ready and the boat out of storage.
  • Good luck to all of those heading southeast this spring for Minnesota's spring turkey hunt.
  • Minnesota's stream trout fishing season on most southeastern Minnesota streams opens Saturday, April 17. Catch and release fishing opens Thursday, April 1.
  • Enjoy the spring; it's a wonderful time of year.

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